Doing Business in the Middle East


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Doing Business in the Middle East

  1. 1. Session outline1. Introduction2. Definitions3. Facts and fiction4. History and politics5. Languages, religions, society and culture6. Guess who’s coming to dinner?7. Business culture and etiquette in the Middle East8. Media, promotion and social media9. Consumer statistics10. Predicting the future11. Questions and discussions
  2. 2. Introduction1. Workshop born out of frequent confusion and common misconceptions2. Polaron: extensive experience in translation, training and interpreting3. Facilitator: experience in business, industrial and military settings in the Middle East, broad linguistic and cultural knowledge, experience in Australian context4. Particpants
  3. 3. Definitions1. What is the Middle East?2. Countries in the Middle East:Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestinian territories. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
  4. 4. Middle East
  5. 5. Fiction „It’s impossible to break into the Middle Eastern market.” „Foreign business people are discriminated against in the Middle East.”„The Middle East is completely corrupt and you have to pay bribes to get ahead.” „Converting to Islam will make you one of the boys.”„Middle Eastern stakeholders give preference to companies from other Arab countries in business.”
  6. 6. Facts„Entering the ME market is a slow and gradual process requiring engagement, respect and local contacts.”„Most people in the Middle East respect foreigners and extend hospitality to them.”„Whilst the Middle East suffers from the image of being corrupt, it is illegal to engage in it.”„Religion is irrelevant in business in the Middle East.”„Middle Eastern stakeholders prefer foreign companies because of their track record and reputation.”
  7. 7. History and politics1. Before Islam2. Islamic Empire (632 – 1517)3. Ottoman colonialism era (1516 – 1918)4. European colonialism era (1916 – 1970)5. Totalitarian regimes6. The Arab spring in December 2010
  8. 8. European colonialism
  9. 9. Language1. Arabic language – 28 letters = 28 sounds – Synthetic language – Standard Arabic and classical Arabic – Regional varieties of Arabic2. Other languages of the region: Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, Kurdish, Aramaic3. Arabic numbering system
  10. 10. Religions1. Islam• The main religion• Friday• Muslim prayers• Fasting• 3 annual festivals• Taboos: pork, porn, alcohol, non-halal food2. Other religions: Judaism, Christianity, Baha’i, Druze, Yazidi, Mandaeanism, Gnosticism, Shabakism
  11. 11. Society and culture• Conservatism• Collectivism• Masculinity• High-context culture• Hierarchical roles• Polychronic time• Hospitality
  12. 12. Guess who’s coming to dinner?Your company has posted you to Kuwait. You are aworking as a project manager and your localcounterpart, Abdullah, invites you and your wife to havedinner at his home. He tells you he will pick you up at 7pm. Abdullah arrives half an hour late. When you arriveat his house, your wife is taken away to another roomwhilst you are introduced to the male guests. You shakehands with them but one tries to kiss your cheek. Thereare no chairs in the lounge and you have to sit on thefloor. You have to share a big round plate of rice andmeat with another guest.
  13. 13. Business culture in Middle EastMarketing and advertising A fertile consumer market Dependence on foreign expertise and work force Tips on advertising:• Product quality and features• No bragging• Compliance with cultural norms and values• No pictures of scantily clad people• Use of Arabic language• Use of English
  14. 14. Media
  15. 15. Media
  16. 16. Media
  17. 17. Media
  18. 18. Media
  19. 19. Media
  20. 20. PromotionWhat do you notice about these ads?
  21. 21. Censorship
  22. 22. Censorship
  23. 23. Before
  24. 24. After
  25. 25. Brands
  26. 26. Brands
  27. 27. Brands
  28. 28. Brands
  29. 29. Social media FacebookCountry Users Top 3 brandsUAE 3.3 million Emirates, Internet Explorer Arabia, Just FalafelEgypt 12 million Vodafone, Samsung, NokiaBahrain 0.4 million Bahrein City Centre, VIVA Bahrain, Gulf AirMorocco 4.9 million Meditel, Samsung, inwiAlgeria 3.9 million Nedjima, Renault, DjezzyQatar 0.7 million QNB Group, Carnegie Mellon University, QatarAirwaysTunesia 3.2 million Orange, Ministry of Interior, Coca ColaJordan 4.2 million Vero Moda, Samsung Mobile Levant, N2V
  30. 30. Social media
  31. 31. Social media
  32. 32. Recommended business etiquetteGreetings1. Use Muslims’ greeting ‘Aslamu Alaykum’.2. When shaking hands with an Arabic partner, wait for the other to withdraw their hand first.3. Don’t be suprised if you are led by hand by a male.4. Call Arabs by their first names, but better still, use Arab titles.5. If you are introduced to a woman, wait and see if she offers her hand for a hand shake.6. Avoid touching and prolonged eye contact with women.
  33. 33. Recommended business etiquetteMeetings1. Confirm the meeting verbally a few days before the appointment.2. Dress well: suits and ties make a good impression.3. Initial meetings are all about trust and relationship building.4. Be patient as meetings and negotiations with Arab partners can be chaotic.5. Meetings are not structured and are circular in nature.6. Be on time! However … it is normal for Arabs to be late.7. Ensure your documents are translated before attending a meeting.
  34. 34. Recommended business etiquetteIn a work place1. Respect authority; use honorific titles2. Islamic rules are always observed: prayer times, Ramadhan, festivals, Hallal and Haram, etc.3. Social relationship and friendship are expected between colleagues.4. No swearing or aggressive words.5. No loud laughing or joking.6. Modest clothing.
  35. 35. Predicting the future1. Oil reliant economies BUT diverse economic models in preparation for a post-oil era are being adopted2. Political instability BUT a very fertile and attractive market3. Growing tourism and banking sectors4. Ongoing influx of guest workers5. Increasing consumerism and growing tolerance towards the west6. Development of new technologies including solar and nuclear7. Cooperation with developing countries for future food supplies8. Entrepreneurship is gaining momentum9. Influence of social media, mobile phones and internet10. Much content and e-learning is being created locally11. Digital gap is being bridged12.Economic inclusion and social empowerment of women
  36. 36. Consumer statistics
  37. 37. Questions and discussions